Apple’s latest smartphone range has a surprise entry in the form of the iPhone 12 mini, which is a genuinely smaller phone with very few compromises.
The iPhone 12 mini looks exactly the same as the iPhone 12, only hit with a shrink ray. It looks just as fresh and sharp as its larger sibling, with aluminum sides, a glass back and a new “ceramic shield” covering for the screen that Apple says is four times more drop-resistant.
The modern OLED screen measures 5.4in on the diagonal, which makes it significantly smaller than the 6.1in display on the regular 12 but no less crisp, colorful and brilliant. The screen is the same width as the older 4.7in LCD display on the iPhone SE but is 1.6mm taller to the Face ID notch.
There are many benefits to having a small phone, including being a lot easier to use it one-handed and fit in pockets, but there are also some downsides. It was too small to fit in my car windscreen mount, for instance, and the narrow screen meant my thumbs clashed frequently when typing at speed with two hands.
But the biggest problem is simply the amount of screen area to see things. Trying to review some documents on the 12 mini was a painful mess of zooming, scrolling and eventually giving up to go a bigger device. Watching video was also a bit tedious, meaning I would start but not actually watch an episode all the way through – not something I have experienced with modern 6in-plus smartphones.
I ended up doing less on the iPhone 12 mini because of its small size, which could be a good thing if you spend too much time on a phone, but it just meant I needed other devices to get whatever it was done.